Stat Nerd NL All-Star Roster

We did the AL earlier this afternoon, so now we’re tackling the 34 man rosters for the National League. Quick primer in case you didn’t read the AL post — I value first half performance (even flukes) since I see the game as a reward for the players, every team gets a representative, and injured guys are not considered. On to the picks, with starters listed first.

Catcher: Yadier Molina, Carlos Ruiz, A.J. Ellis, Buster Posey

Don’t need four catchers, but can’t leave any of these guys at home. The first two would be legitimate MVP candidates if not for some first baseman in Cincinnati, and Ellis and Posey have been huge factors in their team’s success as well. They all deserve to go.

Apologies To: Miguel Montero.

First Base: Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt

Hey National League First Baseman Not Named Joey Votto – you suck. Okay, Goldschmidt is having a solid enough year, but the lack of depth behind Votto at the position in the NL is pretty staggering. There are seven qualified NL first baseman with less than +0.6 WAR. Essentially half the team’s in the NL are getting nothing from their first baseman. Let’s move on.

Apologies To: Fans of NL teams who have to watch their league’s first baseman hit.

Second Base: Brandon Phillips, Dan Uggla, Aaron Hill

A pretty balanced group here, with Phillips getting the starting nod mostly because his track record suggests he’s probably the best of the three. While this is a performance reward, when the performance is this close, tie goes to the best guy.

Apologies To: Jose Altuve, who is in if he’s healthy.

Shortstop: Jed Lowrie, Starlin Castro, Jose Reyes

Lowrie’s an easy pick, but it gets a bit tougher to pick the reserves after that. Castro gives us a needed Cubs representative and is pretty much in line with the rest of the non-Lowrie guys, so he gets a spot. Reyes isn’t far back of the group in 2012 performance while being a worthy player based on talent, but I wouldn’t argue much if you wanted to swap him out for one of the others.

Apologies To: Ian Desmond, Rafael Furcal, Jimmy Rollins

Third Base: David Wright, Chase Headley, David Freese

Mostly cut-and-dried here, with Wright as the obvious starter, Headley as the obvious Padres representative, and Freese getting the last spot due to nothing more than personal preference. I’d have no problem with anyone who wanted to change out Freese for someone else out of the pile of similar players.

Apologies To: Aramis Ramirez, Hanley Ramirez

Outfield: Ryan Braun, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Gonzalez, Melky Cabrera, Giancarlo Stanton, Jason Heyward, Michael Bourn, Bryce Harper

There are about 15 deserving candidates here, so the apologies list could span a couple of pages, but I took nine so that one of them could serve as the DH – probably Beltran. The first eight guys are all clearly deserving on performance, while Harper gets in as something of a good-for-the-game selection. He’s played well enough that it’s not a charity selection, and having him and Trout make their first all-star games together will simply make the event more fun. This is the one case where I’m going with fan spectacle over pure player performance, and thankfully, Harper has played well enough that he’s not a ridiculous pick on his own merits.

Apologies To: Matt Holliday, Dexter Fowler, Martin Prado, Andre Ethier, Jay Bruce

Starting Pitcher: Matt Cain, R.A. Dickey, Stephen Strasburg, Clayton Kershaw, Gio Gonzalez, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, James McDonald

The NL has so many good starting pitchers that I’ve decided that I just can’t exclude as many as I did in the AL, so the NL’s bullpen is going to be almost entirely made up of starters. Really, which of these eight guys don’t deserve to go? Even among the guys who I’m already apologizing to, there are legitimately strong cases for a spot on the roster. The NL might want to consider just bring 33 pitchers and Joey Votto just to be fair to the NL starting pitching field.

Apologies To: Wade Miley, Ryan Vogelsong, Lance Lynn, Cole Hamels, Madison Bumgarner

Relief Pitcher: Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel

Probably the two best relievers in baseball right now, so my regrets to all the good setup guys in the NL — sorry, you were aced out by ridiculous starting pitching performances this year.

Apologies To: Tyler Clippard, Matt Belisle, Many Many Others




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


78 Responses to “Stat Nerd NL All-Star Roster”

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  1. hscer says:

    Thinks: You sure Clippard doesn’t belong over Kimbrel?
    Decides: Maybe I should check Kimbrel’s numbers first.
    Thinks: Craig Kimbrel’s xFIP is WHAT?

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  2. phoenix2042 says:

    you know the starting pitching is stacked when both Hamels and Bumgarner get snubbed. The NL should make a one game trade of SP for 1B just for the ASG.

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    • Jon L. says:

      I think this idea, presumably presented entirely in jest, is actually one to take seriously. If MLB would dispense with the absurdity of the all-star game affecting the World Series, they could choose up teams and put the best players on the field, and we might even see some cool match-ups like Strasburg-Harper, Weaver-Trout, and Chapman-Votto.

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  3. Brian says:

    What about Allen Craig at 1B? He’s been hurt for a while but he’s hit like a banshee when healthy.

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    • Anon says:

      Craig started the season late because he was recovering from an off-season surgury (broke his knee cap last season).

      He at least deserves a mention.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        You might as well push for Andrelton Simmons considering he has an even higher WAR in even fewer games. Guys without established track records don’t get rewarded for SSS dominance.

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  4. JT Grace says:

    Glad to see Michael Bourn and Jason Heyward getting some love. Neither are in the top 10 of fan voting. Hopefully the players vote them in.

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  5. John says:

    Bryce Harper does not deserve an all star spot.

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      explain. He’s played pretty good. Or is this a “he hasn’t paid his dues” type of thing?

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      • Bob says:

        “Pretty good” doesnt exactly sound like an all star performance. He’s been great for a rookie – less than that if you look at the league as a whole.

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      • jorgath says:

        Please name which of the “apologies to” outfielders you’d pick in his place. Why would you pick that person over Harper? Please use a statistics-based argument, since this is the Stat Nerd AS roster.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        Harper has quite a bit less at bats than other guys who have been playing in the Majors all year and has 1.3 bWAR. Plus if he had to, he could catch.

        I’m not saying he’s better than the players in, but he’s definately “in the discussion” especially for only 200 or so AB. I wanted an explanation because he didn’t give one.

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      • Brandon says:

        Prado? Unless his 3.3 WAR this year just isn’t good enough. He’s hit as well as Harper and plays really good defense in left. Either is another guy who has hit as well as Harper but played better defense. Holliday and Fowler have just hit better than Harper to this point as well. So pretty much all of those that were listed minus Bruce.

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      • Ryan S says:

        I thought Fowler and his .399 wOBA deserved it more than Harper did. Just about any metric you look at says Fowler > Harper. That being said, I’d still rather see Bryce play!

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  6. Daniel says:

    I voted-Votto, Hill (close between him uggla and phillips like it is here), Lowrie, Wright, Braun, Beltran and Bourn. McCutchen’s WAR is just a bit too far below Bourn to overwrite that stat completely….Still, he deserves to start as the only pirate.

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    • PiratesHurdles says:

      Cutch shouldn’t be the only PIrate unless LaRussa pulls an all Cards selection. JMac would be a huge oversight. If they take more closers Hanrahan would be in line too.

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    • Robert says:

      My ballot is almost your ballot. I switched out Hill and Phillips (like you said, it’s close); and I left Braun off for McCutchen because Braun should’ve been suspended for the first 50 games of this season.

      It’s not that I’m some anti-steroid guy who wouldn’t vote McGwire into the HOF; it’s more that when you break a law you’re supposed to pay the price, and when you get off because your lawyer found a technicality, well.

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  7. Bronnt says:

    Hmm. I’ll confess to my Atlanta bias showing through, but if there’s room for Bryce Harper making the team based on his appeal to the fans, surely there should be room for Chipper Jones. His numbers aren’t far off the mark, he’s just missed too much time, and it’s not like the Cardinals need David Freese as their representative.

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    • JT Grace says:

      I agree. Bryce Harper will likely make many, many more all-star teams. This will be Chipper’s last chance. It would be a nice thing for the future Hall of Famer to make it this year.

      If Harper makes it it will only be because of the hype, not the actual on-field performance. Many other OFs have been better than him this year.

      Trout has earned it. Harper hasn’t.

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    • Will H. says:

      Even if you don’t consider the fact that he has so few games played that he doesn’t even qualify for titles right now, which is a fair place to draw the line IMHO, there are seven – yes, seven – NL 3Bs with a higher wRC+ out of all with at least as many PAs as Chipper.

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      • Bronnt says:

        I certainly wouldn’t try to argue he’s completely deserve in his own merits, so it’s not like you need to exaggerate the case against him to make your point. I don’t know how you get 7 NL thirdbasemen with high wRC+’s. Are you counting Jerry Hairston, the utility man who plays a lot of second base? Or Brian Bixler, the guy with only 53 PAs?

        As it is, he’s only 0.3 WAR behind the guy chosen here to take that last 3B slot, representing the Cardinals. While that’s obviously greater than zero, I’m curious just how much value we can place on sentimentality, or fan appeal, or whatever else you might call it. Perhaps it’s only 0.5 WAR per full season, in which case Chipper is off the pace, but I’m at least owning up to my bias.

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      • Bronnt says:

        One last remark: As a Braves’ fan, if I had to make a choice between sending Jason Heyward, who does deserve to go, and Chipper, who falls a bit short, I’d rather send Chipper Jones, and the NL team can carry an extra DH rather than an extra outfielder.

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  8. Nathan Nathan says:

    Bryan LaHair would make a decent choice for First Baseman on the Bench. Then wouldn’t need Castro.

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    • Daniel says:

      Sure because Starlin Castro blah blah blah. Lahair hasn’t hit in a month.

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      • Daniel says:

        Seriously the Cubs are awful but if you’re gonna play by the rules and take one of them, who are going to take? You’re gonna take Starlin Castro. Maybe you take Ryan Dempster if he’s healthy but he isn’t. I don’t see that Castro’s keeping out any slam dunks either.

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  9. Will H. says:

    Without much argument, then, I swap Reyes with Desmond.

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    • Greg says:

      Agree. His numbers are better and he has been the most clutch National — perhaps the most clutch of anyone in the league. I can’t tell you how many late-inning, bases loaded, and RISP hits he has. He has to be hitting over .400 with the bases juiced.

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  10. JCA says:

    how about taking strasburg as a first baseman since has a higher OPS than any non-Votto first baseman?

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  11. Phrozen says:

    Maybe I’m just a moran, but I don’t like the catcher’s spot. Ruiz should be the starting C based on first half performance. No question. And Posey should sit in favor of Montero.

    I’d also swap Rollins and Reyes.

    And how the hell do you take Harper’s 1.5 fWAR over Ethier’s 2.8?

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  12. Jon says:

    Adam Laroche isn’t a terrible first base option either. He’s not really all-star quality, but he’s had a solid year (.340 OBP/.500 Slug).

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  13. dborghardt6 says:

    thats right YOU APOLOGIZE TO JOSE ALTUVE. though its not like he can do anything about it if you don’t…

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  14. reillocity says:

    You’ll have to add Josh Thole to the team. Else there would be no volunteers to catch Dickey, which would mean that Dickey wouldn’t pitch, which would eliminate 92% of Stat Nerd’s interest in the All-Star Game.

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  15. AF says:

    Wouldn’t a stat nerd, you know, just take the players with the best stats?

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    • Ivan Grushenko says:

      I was thinking this too. I’d expect some sort of objective criteria no matter what those criteria were.

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    • Ivan Grushenko says:

      I realize Martin Prado (or Chipper Jones) may not have played much if any 1B but I’d still take them as the backup 1B over Goldschmidt.

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      • bstar says:

        Actually, Martin Prado did play a couple games at first this year, as Freddie Freeman was healing from his eye and finger injuries. He looked remarkably agile out there compared to Freeman.

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      • gdc says:

        Posey also plays some 1B which allows the other 3 catchers to play catcher.

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      • Jack says:

        Its a sad fact when Prado and Posey are the best first basemen in the NL not named Votto, even though they rarely play there.

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      • JT Grace says:

        Agree. Prado would probably challenge Votto for the gold glove if he played 1B on a daily basis. he has a great glove and his range is incredible…..of course that’s what makes him a good 3B.

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  16. Jay says:

    I think about half the thread missed this being the “Stat Nerd All Star Game.” Not the “vote XYZ player in because he’s a feel good story” All Star Game.

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    • Nitram Odarp says:

      Yeah except Dave basically said he put Harper on team for non-stat based reasons

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      • JT Grace says:

        Yep, I loved the entire team except Prado (plus a few others) deserve to be on the all-star team more than Harper IF we are going by the stats.

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  17. JMS says:

    Concur. One would think that a stat nerd voting on fan graphs would not take 7 outfielders with inferior WAR to Martin Prado [Harper accumulating less than 1/2 the WAR that Prado has] over, say, Martin Prado. FWar is awfully kind to the Braves outfield.

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  18. Jordan says:

    Poor Nationals. Leading the NL, 2nd in the FanGraphs-SI WAR power rankings, only deserving of 2 all-stars according to Dave.

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    • Cliff says:

      Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Bryce Harper

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    • jorgath says:

      As a Nats fan, I’ll trade Bryce Harper’s right to go for putting Gio Gonzalez AND Tyler Clippard in.

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    • a says:

      Okay. Who else deserves from the Nats deserves to be in, Jordan?

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      • Greg says:

        Ian Desmond
        Adam LaRoche over Goldschmidt — he’s a better fielder and he’s not relying on a .350+ babip.
        I could make a case for Zimmermann or even Edwin Jackson but there are so many good pitchers.
        I could also argue Clippard has earned a spot but it’s tough to make the numbers work. I’d have to look at the advanced pitching to confirm but even Sean Burnett has been remarkable.

        But Desi definitely deserves a spot.

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  19. jpg says:

    Johan Santana at least deserve an apology, no?

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  20. Voxx says:

    Cardinals have had pretty reasonable production at first base – it has just come from a multitude of players.

    Berkman 49 PA 172 wRC+
    Craig 157 PA 164 wRC+
    Carpenter 138 PA 134 wRC+

    That’s probably better than every team non-Votto division, at least, though I acknowledge that playing time issues make Craig an unworthy pick for this exercise.

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  21. NBarnes says:

    The idea of Melky Cabrera in an All-Star game is making my brain liquify.

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    • Hurtlockertwo says:

      Melky’s heart is in SF. I’m surprised that Melky didn’t do better in NY and Atl. The guy plays hard, hustles on every at bat, seems to really enjoy his success and his 106 hits leads the majors.

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  22. John says:

    But Brandon Belt is a pleasure to watch, no apologies needed.

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  23. Eugene Jacket says:

    WAIT. Jim Johnson doesn’t make the cut? I know he’s due to regress, but really?

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  24. Politically Incorrect says:

    Carlos Ruiz: 4.0 WAR
    Yadier Molina: 3.2 WAR

    Yadi might be the better catcher in terms of true talent, and it’s entirely possible WAR is useless for catchers because of defense, but it seems very hard to argue in an article that says it heavily weights first-half statistics (regardless of flukiness) that Chooch shouldn’t be the starting catcher.

    And it’s not like Ruiz is a total fluke. The guy has hit .308/.395/.453 since the start of 2010. He’s a really, really good baseball player.

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  25. TKDC says:

    Bryce Harper pick is an absolute joke. The name of this article should be renamed. Harper has not played at an all-star level this year and he is not one of the best players of this time (key distinction being “this time” is 2012). Harper might be Ted Williams in 2014, but in 2012 he’s more like a declining Alex Rios.

    Outside of mere age (the “a good player that is 19″ argument), there is no basis for picking Harper and not Jeter. Jeter is better this year (WAR), is currently a better player (Zips RoS), and is more popular and more people want to see him (no citation necessary).

    I am not a Yankees fan and I hate the media attention and hype Jeter has gotten for years, but this was the best example. The author simply like Bryce Harper and decided he wanted him on the NL team. Their is no basis in stat nerdum for having Harper on this team.

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    • Jeff in So. Indiana says:

      When did Jeter join the NL?

      This is your best example?

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      • TKDC says:

        The author made two lists, genius. Presumably the same rules (in his head) applied to both of them. Jeter is the best pick because the x-factor that applies to Harper, that people want to see him there, applies 10-fold to Jeter, who is also a better player right now and has had a better season.

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  26. ChopMaster says:

    What kind of crap is this?? Martin Prado is the best LF in the NL by WAR. Why is he not on the All-Star roster? He actually deserves it more than Heyward, although I’m a big fan of both.

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    • ChopMaster says:

      Excuse me, Prado is actually the 2nd best LF in the NL in WAR, behind Ryan Braun. He still deserves to be in the ASG. All 3 Braves outfielders are in the Top 5 in the NL in WAR among all OFers.

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  27. ChopMaster says:

    And by the way, assuming Prado doesn’t get in by the fan vote, is it likely he’s taken as pick from the players or the manager? Also, will he be taken as an OF or a Utility guy, since he’s played at least 3 games at each of LF, 3B, and 1B?

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  28. ChopMaster says:

    Bryce Harper? That’s a clown pick, bro.

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  29. Mbro says:

    Wow; this writer has absolutely NO clue about baseball

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